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Derek Thompson

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic magazine. He writes about topics as diverse as behavioral psychology, professional sports, and blockbuster films. Derek also hosts The Atlantic’s latest podcast Crazy/Genius, and is a weekly contributor to “Here and Now,” the national afternoon news show on NPR, and he appears regularly on CBS, the BBC, and MSNBC. He has appeared on numerous lists, including both Inc magazine’s and Forbes’ “30 Under 30” and Time magazine’s 140 Best Twitter Feeds.

Derek’s debut book is Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction. In this beautifully written book, Derek tackles a seemingly simple question: Why do hits become hits? Why do some songs, movies, and books become bestsellers while others fizzle out? The book is a riveting read, whether you’re in the business of creating hits or simply curious why Fifty Shades of Grey became a worldwide sensation.

Derek and I discuss:

  • Derek’s personal failures in finding a job as a writer and how he ended up getting his job at The Atlantic.
  • What Derek learned from covering the notoriously secretive X, Google’s moonshot factory (you can read his article on X at this link).
  • The strategies that X uses to cultivate an environment where employees embrace failure.
  • Why X decided to hold an event modeled after Mexico’s Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.
  • The two big ideas from Derek’s book, Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction.
  • Why writing a book is similar to organizing a massive house.
  • How learning is accumulation and understanding is elimination.

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